PETA gloms onto Pedigree Dogs Exposed...and earns a smackdown
“The makers of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the BBC documentary film that led to the BBC withdrawing from televising Crufts Dog Show in the UK are furious with PETA for jumping on the film’s bandwagon.”
If you’ve never seen this excellent documentary, here’s an exemplary clip. As its title suggests, it’s an exposé of dog breeding for the show ring in the UK, complete with examples of poor trait propagation while interviewed dog industry reps urge welfare reform in the show dog world.
As profiled on Dolittler in many past posts, (here’s one), the breeding of dogs with an eye towards conformation often means that health takes a back seat. Some breed standards are even gravitating towards more extreme conformation (reference the English bulldog in America, among others), which essentially rewards show dog breeders for their dogs’ increasingly poor health.
These are the real designer dogs in the most literal sense. They are crafted of existing genetic material so that, by design, many breeds cannot breathe, cannot breed, cannot run, cannot live what most of us would consider “normal, healthy dog lives.”
For these breeders, “normal, healthy dog life” is a subjective quality that holds minimal sway in the face of their breed’s history and the show ring judges’ opinions.
Then there are the unintended consequences that arise from the craft of genetic manipulation. These are the offspring of dogs “line-bred” to enhance certain traits. These are the result of popular “sires” who taint the breed by widely distributing genetic defects that may or may not be in evidence at the time of breeding.
The resulting detritus trickles down to the “pet-quality” dogs who suffer seizures, severe angular limb deformities, congenital eye and heart malformations, hip dysplasia and other unwanted traits. We, the public at large, are their recipients.
Predictably, perhaps, PETA has spoken out in favor of Pedigree Dogs Exposed and its message. The documantary’s producers, however, have rejected PETA’s support. Instead, they’ve taken this opportunity to lambast PETA for its record on shelter pet euthanasia and extreme agenda. Here’s their response to PETA’s glom:
“I am horrified that PETA is using the film to further its own, warped agenda,” says Jemima Harrison, of Passionate Productions, which made the film for the BBC. “Our film is about animal welfare, not animal rights.
“PETA’s animal welfare record is appalling. It kills 97 per cent of the dogs that come to its shelters and admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the “domestic enslavement” of dogs as either pets or working dogs.
“In stark contrast, and the reason we made the film, is that we believe pedigree dogs are of tremendous value to society and that something needs to be done to arrest the damage caused by decades of inbreeding and selection for ‘beauty’. The film is a passionate call for urgent reform to save them before it is too late. To do that, there needs to be urgent reform of breeding practices and dog shows.
“PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money. They have not bothered to contact us - and, indeed, if they did we would make it very clear we do not want their support. It devalues and marginalises a film that raises a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly.”
I couldn’t agree more. Nor can I think of a better approach than the Terrierman’s take:
“If we want to IMPROVE dogs we cannot allow the movement to be hijacked by lunatics who would KILL all dogs.”
This, I believe.